The 2010-11 hockey season came in like a lamb, and out like a lion for the Lions. The team with the smallest roster managed to conquer the season and win the championship. I attribute a lot of my team’s success to healthy camaraderie and sportsmanship, even in the face of adversity.
The Lions wasted no time in winning four of its first five games, with Kirk Ashman and Don Deschamps establishing themselves as the leading goal-scorers. During our first five weeks, we played well enough to make it to first place in the standings.
When one of our forwards decided to leave, however, we gained a dynamite defensive forward in Alicia Palma. The veteran player was important to our success, particularly in her ability to shut down our toughest opponents. Her tenacity and dedication helped us to rise above our disappointments.
Two incidents occurred following this roster change that made us work harder. The first was in January, when Christine Pacheco, one of our defensive forwards, had to stop playing for medical reasons. We understood that her departure would only be temporary.
The second, however, was when Sean Ross, our veteran goalie, died of an infection on February 2. We all mourned his death and vowed that we would dedicate the rest of the season to him.
In spite of our loss, our devotion to the team became stronger than ever. Now down to seven players, the momentum we had enjoyed at the start of the season slowly built itself back up. We communicated with each other more directly and frequently, which we owe in part to our coach Clayton Thomas. His gritty and motivational coaching helped us to end the season in third place, good enough to ensure us a spot in the playoffs.
On April 16, we faced the Titans as our first playoff challengers. They won the first game 3-1. We managed to win the second game 3-2. Two weeks later, to our surprise and amazement, we knocked the Titans out 5-4, and onto the finals we went!
On May 7, we played our first finals game against the Panthers. During the season they were one of the most difficult teams to beat, considering they finished in first place. We fought hard to win 5-4 and in the presence of Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, David Onley.
The following week, on May 14, we defeated the Panthers in a close 3-2. The cup was ours.What a beautiful ending to a roller-coaster season!
We dedicated the championship to Sean, who was always there, in spirit. This is one hockey season I personally will never forget.
The 2010-11 Lions are Marcel Adarkwa, Kirk Ashman, Don Barrie, Greg Contaxis, Don Deschamps, Lori Edwards, Christine Pacheco, Alicia Palma and Sean Ross.